Hi, Carol! My daughters Emma (age 10) and Addie (age 6) and I (age 39-ha!) are so happy to have you join us on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! We appreciate you taking time out of your busy letter answering, book writing, school visiting schedule to talk to us about the launch of your very cute book, Ava and Pip, which publishes March 4 from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky!
Carol: And I appreciate your appreciation! Thanks for reaching out.
Erin: We always enjoy serving our guests tea and the girls enjoy baking cupcakes. Do you have a favorite choice of cake and frosting? We go from the simple to the extravagant, so ask for anything!
Carol: Chocolate is always the answer to that question!
Erin: We have just a few questions for you, so let’s get started. Of course, we’ll wait until your mouth isn’t full. ha! I’ll leave it over to the girls to question away…..
Emma: Hi Carol! I really enjoy reading books of girls my age that are funny yet also have issues of girls my age in them. I like to find answers through books. I am more like Pip in the story (I do make friends, but I am quiet and shy) and Addie is more like Ava, though I am the writer! How do you come up with your characters?
Carol: Thanks, Emma. Sometimes characters put themselves together gradually, like a puzzle. Other times, they jump aboard whole. Being a mom of two daughters helps me write about girls. And being the “Dear Carol” advice columnist at Girls’ Life for 20 (!) years helps me get into the minds of girls too. But the real secret is that, like every other adult on the planet, I was a kid first — and I happen to remember what it was like to be the little sister with the diary who sometimes craved a smidge more attention than she was getting.
Emma: Have you written any other Ava and Pip stories, or is the first, and also, will there be more? I really enjoyed it and I hope there will be more like it.
Carol: Thanks! I’ve already written the second book in the series and it’s with my editor at Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. The working title is Ava and Taco Cat. Did you notice the spelling of Taco Cat? It’s a palindrome. While you’re waiting for the sequel, you can also read about Melanie Martin. She’s ten too and her sister is six — Addie’s age. Melanie and Matt go traveling to Italy, Holland, Spain, and New York in a series that Knopf published starting in 2000 — before you were even born! The Diary of Melanie Martin is in paperback.
Emma: I am just 10, but I feel like I am already dealing with so much teen drama and life is so busy there is not as much time for fun. My mom wants to know why tweens and teens are growing up faster and faster and I’d like to know what advice you can give me to stay focused on my dreams and goals, yet still have fun?
Carol: W-O-W, big questions. Okay, first of all, I do believe that fun is important. Kids should have fun (safe fun, of course) and parents should too. At any age, I think it’s all about balance and doing a little planning. Today, for instance, I’ll be at my desk most of the day thinking about words… but tonight I’m going to hear friends sing at a cabaret. Knowing I have something fun to do later helps me work hard now. Get it? 🙂 As for your mom’s question, the crazy thing is that parents have always thought that kids grow up too fast and it’s always been true and it gets truer and truer. Emma, you are ten and I hope you have fun being ten. There’s plenty of time to be a teenager and adult but this is your time to be a kid.
Emma: I’d like to be a writer and/or an artist. What advice do you have for young writers like me?
Carol: Keep a journal. Don’t worry about getting published because that’s a whole different ballgame. Enjoy the creative writing. I have lots of writing tips in the second Ava Wren book but basically, much of writing is rewriting. Paint pictures with your words and use vivid details and be a good observer. When possible, read your work aloud before turning it in. Or at least reread it to find mistakes or repeated words or places where you can be clearer or funnier or more honest or effective.
Addie: What are your personal favorite children’s writers and/or books?
Carol: Like Ava, I love and loved Aesop’s fables. They are short and pithy and they pack a punch — meaning they give me something to think about. If I had to pick just one or two favorite kids’ books, Charlotte’s Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory would be up there. But what about The Giver? Or A Summer to Die? And good ol’ Ramona? I’m a reader and a book person and I majored in French and Spanish literature at college so we could go on and on.
Addie: It’s cool that you send letters to the New York Times. I thought of when Virginia sent the letter about Santa to the Sun in the 1800s. Do you ever use these letters in your books? (Mom says this is inspiration)
Carol: I live in New York City and I like to start my day with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. If something makes me mad or I want to express my opinion, I’ll send off an email. And yes, I’ve had three dozen letters in so far, which is kind of cool. The last one was my memory of when President Kennedy died. I was about your age, Addie. Oh my goodness, I think I gave one of my letters to the Times about bullying issues had the idea of a queen bee stinging in it. Found it! It did! So your mom’s right, my writing that letter was part of the inspiration behind this book. W-O-W. Thanks for reminding me!
May 24, 2010
To the Editor:
Re “Can an Enemy Be a Child’s Friend?” (Mind, May 18): A study suggests that “when someone dislikes you, it may be adaptive to dislike them back.” Yes, but as a mom, author, and advice columnist, I know that if you fight a queen bee, you’re likely to get stung. When friendships go sour, girls should reach out to other kids and recognize that the world is crowded and not made of just two people orbiting each other. Disengaging is not easy, but it is liberating.
Erin: I hear you live with a master funny man (btw, he used to be from my state of Ohio!), what does he do to keep you laughing every day? What do you do to keep HIM laughing?
Carol: A master funny man? Are we talking about my cat Mike or my husband Rob?? Rob Ackerman of Bexley, Ohio, does props and special effects for Saturday Night Live and writes plays and musicals like Tabletop, Volleygirls, and Teach for America. I guess we both enjoy wordplay so we do try to amuse each other! And we believe in fun, so we go out a lot and sometimes have to say to each other, “Pencils down!”
Erin: We don’t want to keep your further, Carol, but we have enjoyed being able to talk to you! Keep doing what you are doing, it is an amazing help to girls and mothers. And we hope to read more about Ava, she’s a delightful childhood character for the girls to enjoy!! Best of luck with launching it in March!
Carol: Thanks so much, Erin and Emma and Addie. I’m glad you like AVA AND PIP. Comes out March 4! For more info, visit my website carolweston.com or check out my channel, youtube.com/girltalkwithcarol. I have videos there for parents and tweens too. All best to all of you and thanks for the cupcake. I hope I didn’t leave any crumbs.
Ava and Pip, Synopsis~Out March 4, 2014!
- Age Range: 10 – 12 years
- Grade Level: 5 – 7
- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (March 4, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1402288700
- ISBN-13: 978-1402288708
Unlike her shy and reserved sister Pip, Ava just can’t seem to stop talking. Whether it’s pointing out the palindromes in her or her family’s names (A-V-A, P-I-P) in phrases in sentences, or speaking out against others, she just can’t keep her mouth shut – or in one instance, even her mind. When Ava writes a vengeful story against Bea to get back at her for ruining Pip’s birthday party, she begins to taste the bittersweet reality of her actions. Soon, guilt-ridden Ava enlists none other than Bea to help Pip overcome her introverted personality, and along with finding out that she and her family are not the only ones that enjoy puns and homonyms, she discovers how big of an impact words and stories can have on the world around you.
Where You Might Catch Carol in Person~
Carol is having some launch parties to celebrate her new book also!! Join her as per her website states “at the Corner Bookstore in NYC on Mar 4 at 6, or Mar 9 at 2 at BookCourt on 163 Court Street in Brooklyn, or Mar 11 at the New York Society Library at 5:30. Or meet her Mar 29 at Watchung in Montclair at 2; Apr 4 at the NYC Center for Fiction; Apr 5 at the Bank Street Bookstore at 2:30… I’ll be in D.C. Mar 21 (Politics and Prose), and L.A. on Apr 8, and Columbus, Ohio, Apr 15. More details to follow.” Check her website at http://www.carolweston.com
Carol Weston, Biography (in her words, from her website)~
I’m a grown-up girl, a mom-wife-daughter-sister-friend, a New York Upper West Sider, a guest on Today and Oprah, “the reigning advice columnist at GL magazine” (so says Newsweek), a novelist/author of 12 books who enjoys skiing and art museums, a Yalie who wrote for Seventeen at age 19, a speaker of French and a mumbler of Italian with an M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury, a guest at schools from Alaska to Florida (not on the same day), and hmmm, what else? My parents were writers, and my birthday is September 11th. Oh, and I’ve had 28 letters in the New York Times. (Who knew? The Times knew. They keep track!)
The Columbus Dispatch said, “A little G-rated advice can go a long way to help young girls navigate an R-rated world. Carol Weston is standing by.” And it’s true. I am standing by.
But I like sitting too! And playing Hearts and Boggle and Words With Friends and baking cookies and watching movies and reading the paper and going to Book Club and hanging with my cat. Since we all have different strengths and weaknesses, let me confess that my sense of direction is truly terrible. (Thank heavens for the compass on my iPhone!)
Carol’s Professional Bio from Amazon~
Carol Weston writes for kids, teens, and grown-ups and has been the advice columnist at Girls’ Life since 1994. Newsweek calls her a “Teen Dear Abby.” At Yale, she studied comp lit, graduating summa cum laude, and she and her family now live in NYC. You can visit her website at carolweston.com and her advice channel at youtube.com/girltalkwithcarol. Carol’s next book for kids is about AVA AND PIP.
Carol’s first book, GIRLTALK: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You (HarperCollins), has been in print since 1985, and is widely translated. Now in a fourth edition, it’s as sensible, encouraging, and “outstanding” (SLJ) as ever. Carol’s first novel was The Diary of Melanie Martin (Knopf). It’s about a traveling girl and her brother Matt the Brat. (Psst, their art teacher mom doesn’t know that their favorite museum game is Point Out the Naked People…) In the series, the family visits Italy, Spain, Holland, and NYC.
Emma Al-Mehairi, Age 10, Interviewer~
Emma is ten years old and a straight A student with a gift for reading and writing. She has read at a higher level than her peers ever since the summer between Kindergarten and First Grade when she spent almost the entire summer at the beach. That was also the summer Mom was reading the Twilight series, and took her to see Eclipse at the theater, and Emma found herself loving vampires, werewolfs, and other abnormals when once she was deathly afraid of them. She also likes reading about girls and boys her age, adventure and action thrillers, magic, fantasy, and history. She also enjoys stories about boys and girls her age, especially those who like to write or draw.
Besides reading and writing, she also enjoys softball, soccer, fashion, history, art, writing stories, shopping, asking questions, chocolate, and coffee. She loves to bake cookies and cakes and spends much of her time writing stories and drawing pictures or making crafts.
Addie, Age 6, Interviewer~
Addison Busbey is a sweet six year old of the intelligent variety. She loves to explore books and relishes her trips to the library and any bookstores where she “oohhhs and ahhhhhs” over covers and content.She loves red and pink and has a penchant for watching anything involving cute animals or princesses. Yet, her current favorite shows are all in the Power Ranger television dynasty. With mommy, she looks forward to watching Scooby-Doo each Saturday morning. She has quite the wide variety of interests.She enjoys playing softball, soccer, jumping rope, creating art, and baking cupcakes. She has an extreme love affair with shows like DC Cupcakes, Cake Boss, and Cupcake Wars and is constantly inventing new cupcakes for us to bake. She likes to sing and listen to all kinds of music while dancing till she collapses.
She is a fashion queen who dreams of being a fashion designer in Paris, with her own cupcake store around the corner and perform part-time as a pop star. She wants to have a pet squirrel and will most certainly put a pink bow on its tail and make it wear sparkly heels all while having it wear a superhero outfit!
Watch for more of Emma and Addie’s reviews and interviews! And if you have a recommendation for them, send it their way via Mom (Erin Al-Mehairi).